Ross: Chinese balloon shot down was ripe for counter-surveillance

Feb 6, 2023, 7:44 AM | Updated: 9:21 am


In this photo provided by Chad Fish, the remnants of a large balloon drift above the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of South Carolina, with a fighter jet and its contrail seen below it, Feb. 4, 2023. The downing of the suspected Chinese spy balloon by a missile from an F-22 fighter jet created a spectacle over one of the state's tourism hubs and drew crowds reacting with a mixture of bewildered gazing, distress and cheering. (Chad Fish via AP, File)

(Chad Fish via AP, File)

For the first time in a week, it is safe to look up. Because, as reported on Saturday Night Live, “tonight our long national nightmare is over, we got the balloon,” SNL actor Chloe Fineman, playing NBC correspondent Katy Tur, reported on the weekly sketch show.

We also learned how it was the balloon was able to sneak up on us, “the balloon was somehow able to get past our west coast anti-balloon defense system, the Seattle Space Needle,” the sketch continued.

More from Dave Ross: Was it a Chinese spy balloon, or luxury space travel prototype?

That turns out not to be true, although you have to admit – disguising an anti-balloon system as a restaurant would be very clever.

Of course, the real reason it wasn’t snagged by the Needle is that it crossed the Canadian border over Idaho, probably because the Chinese knew there would be no tall buildings in Idaho. So SNL got it completely wrong.

But you know who got it, right? Me!

Because according to the official Defense Department release, they picked this thing up over Alaska. And while it was coasting over U.S. territory, our own spies were sucking information out of it. My guess is that they were also feeding bait information into it.

And those of you who’ve been warning us about the power of the deep state – you know this is probably true. If you think the deep state can manipulate elections and create recessions – you surely have to believe they can suck secrets out of a vagabond spy bubble.

I am obviously not an expert on defense technology – but years ago, I did arrange a meeting in Washington D.C. with officials at DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, back when it was a little more accessible. They didn’t reveal any secrets, but as I recall, those guys had a certain swagger that told me they were into stuff that I could not begin to imagine.

And given the aerospace talent around here, I’ll bet some of you are working on it right now.

What I can say is that if I were in charge of monitoring China, I’d be tracking every Chinese balloon from the moment it broke 1,000 feet, be it a weather balloon or some kid’s birthday surprise.

I’d be bombarding it with counter-surveillance, and I wouldn’t breathe a word about it in public.

And if public pressure did finally force me to shoot it down, I tell the military to bring it down slowly and perfectly intact – and then imply in public that it probably broke into a million pieces that would be difficult to reconstruct.

And if you’re saying Dave, that sounds a little too deep-state for you – well, the Chinese government plays hardball. And so we have to do the same.

“I entertain new people for four days and then get shot by Biden. Can’t believe I’m Joe’s Osama,” the ballon played by Bowen Yang said.

Hardball, balloon boy, hardball.

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Ross: Chinese balloon shot down was ripe for counter-surveillance